The fundamental purpose of our Middle School is to carry out the Wisconsin International School's mission by providing a program, which addresses the needs, characteristics and interests of early adolescents. The following beliefs and principles drive the development of our program, including everything from choices of methodology to selection of content.
- Middle Schoolers have distinctive characteristics and needs that set them apart from elementary and high school students. These needs as described by Developmental Designs include the following:
- Relationships: I want to connect with others.
- Autonomy: I want to be independent.
- Competence: I want to do well in school, and to feel like a worthwhile, significant person.
- Fun: I want to have a good time.
- Middle schoolers are in transition between childhood and adulthood, moving from the more self-contained environment of elementary school to the more autonomous or independent environment of the middle then high schools.
- With a primary focus on enhancing student learning, our various methodologies should reflect the principle that students should have an active role in learning.
- Middle schoolers' lives are marked by change, especially (but not exclusively) in the areas of: their bodies, their attitudes and habits, their relationships, and their individual processes. Consequently, the pedagogies of those who teach middle schoolers must reflect a clear understanding of these changes as well as how to address and make the most of the changes in the classroom setting.
- Educator and writer Michael Thompson has, in an essay entitled "Adolescence is Hard Work," identified four tasks that all adolescents must come to grips with (and at least particularly complete) to become functional young adults:
- Adapting to puberty and the profound physical, social, and emotional challenges and changes that are so much a part of puberty.
- Transforming one's relationship with one's parents - a shifting child-parent relationship involves early adolescents in separating and gaining independence from their parents while still needing guidance in learning to make good decisions/choices - and learning to take responsibility for the choices (both good and bad) that they make.
- Finding friends and intimates outside the family and specifically, resolving the inevitable conflicts between their love for their parents and their loyalty to their peer group.
- Forming identity and developing a set of values - transitioning from concrete and more abstract thinking - beginning to abstract, generating alternative hypotheses - and beginning to see beliefs, values, and ideas as choices which may put them in conflict with their parents.
- Our middle school faculty will work together in the interest of our middle schoolers - to offer each other support, insights, expertise and commitment and to communicate openly, honestly and with good will to create the best possible environment for learning.
- A responsibility of our middle school is to help parents understand their children at this time of their lives, bringing particular attention and clarity to the academic, social and emotional aspects of being an early adolescent.
- As members of a community committed to enhancing students' learning and understanding, we must examine research and practice, regularly asking ourselves the question, "How can I help my students learn best?" In turn, we must systematically and imaginatively apply our answers to that question to our own pedagogy.